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No sewing required at quilt workshop

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Photo by Wanda Jackson. Karen Arrington, standing, guides workshop participants through her “no-sew quilt block” process.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Karen Arrington, standing, guides workshop participants through her “no-sew quilt block” process.

Published on: Monday, February 04, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

You might expect that quilting is a craft that requires a long list of tools — rotary cutters and rulers, a sewing machine, pins and needles, spools of cotton thread, an iron and ironing board. And, of course, bolts of fabric.

But, Karen Arrington, a multi-talented artist-in-residence at the Greenbelt Community Center, cleverly came up with an idea to create a “unique quilt block using fabric scraps and a no-sew technique.”

Arrington led an open workshop, “No-Sew Quilt Blocks,” on Sunday at the Greenbelt Community Center’s monthly free event, Artful Afternoon.

Arrington’s tool and material list included six patterns on letter-size white paper, white glue, Q-tips, 3/16-inch thick eight-by-eight-inch foam core boards, eight-inch wood skewers and pre-cut fabric squares and triangles, and child-safe and adult scissors.

In her workshop, you could choose a very simple pattern, which featured a center square with four outer triangles, or more complex multi-layered designs.

Arrington described the process as a great exercise in creativity for any age.

“It could be as complicated or as simple as you want,” she said. “I brought some simple patterns so children could do them and more complex patterns for adults who may want to challenge themselves.”

To create the no-sew quilt blocks, participants transferred their patterns to foam core, then selected and glued fabric to the foam core. To give the fabric a quilted-look, skewers were used to embed edges of each fabric square or triangle into the foam core. Filament hangers were inserted to suspend completed fabric blocks.

For many of the participants,  who on Super Bowl Sunday packed the classroom from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., their no-sew quilt blocks were “just like quilting” — a journey of color and inspiration, a visual feast of imagination and expression.

Several created floral themes. Some saw beauty in using designs based on colors — reds, yellows or blues. Another searched for tropical-themed fabrics. Others came up with an eclectic mix of fabrics.

As an artist-in-residence at the Greenbelt Community Center, Arrington has her own studio, located on the third floor. She is known for her “Soulful Pottery” line, including functional, small to large bowls, mugs, teapots, plates, vases, wine glasses and tiles, and mostly Raku-fired bead jewelry. She described her work as “simple and rustic with a hint of sophistication,” and her designs are inspired by nature and its colors.  

Arrington earned a Bachelor of Fine Art in illustration from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and has studied pottery under several established artists in the Washington, D.C., area. Arrington is also a graphic designer and said that the growing and creative process never ends.

“I do a little bit of everything,” she said.

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